Straddling the Loire and looking out to the Atlantic, water has long shaped the history and identity of Nantes. The French city is now capitalising on its maritime history, as its former shipyards play host to the innovative contemporary art event “A journey to Nantes”. FRANCE 24’s Olivia Salazar-Winspear meets its founder and director Jean Blaise, who tells us about the city’s strategy to bring together culture and tourism, as well as artists Myrtille Drouet and Evor Damoiseau, who are reinventing the urban landscape with their installations.
We also take a stroll around two sights that shed light on the history of Nantes: the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany and the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery, both of which provide key insights into how the city’s past has shaped modern French society.
And we check in with the city’s steampunk mascots: the Machines de l’île. These fantastical, mechanical creatures have become synonymous with contemporary culture in Nantes and their star player, the elephant, regularly draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site.